When my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he took up meditation in an attempt to find peace with the situation and I joined him as moral support and in the hope that it would also help me cope better than I had been doing. He had brought home a tape from the Cancer Care Centre and it was basically a guided visualisation of going down in a lift, seeing the numbers of each floor in the mind’s eye and on reaching zero seeing the zero expand, imagine walking through it and visualising being in a tranquil scene. The tape would then go silent for a period of time and the voice would count up again.

At first I struggled mightily just to stay awake but after about six weeks the persistence paid off and I was able to relax and found the sessions quite enjoyable. One day I was in a relaxed state when I had a vision of my mother. Her face appeared to me as though it was above and outside of me and she looked very sad. She communicated telepathically to me ‘you don’t need to be here, Gloria. You’re needed back there.’ With that something relaxed even more deeply in me and I felt an incredible sense of peace such that when the tape finished I didn’t want to move. Roger had been on his stool in front of the lounge where I was sitting and after a while he stirred and glanced over at me. I smiled at him and he came and sat alongside me and we held hands with neither of us saying a word for a long time.

At the time I wasn’t coping very well and though I knew I wouldn’t do anything while Roger was alive, I wasn’t so sure about the future. I had always had a tenuous hold on life, even at the best of times and simply couldn’t imagine what I was going to do without him. I had no belief in anyone surviving death in any way, shape or form at the time and had no knowledge of altered states of consciousness and their effects. I presumed the vision was a kind of waking dream but the sense of peace it evoked had a profound effect on me in many ways. The suicidal thoughts abated and I eventually sought out a counsellor.

Roger’s impending death had brought up memories of my mother’s death and I realised I had never grieved for her when she died 12 years before because it had coincided with a very difficult and demanding period of our life. Eventually I was able to visit her grave for the first time and come to terms with much that had not been dealt with.

As far as what the vision meant, it didn’t change my belief that death meant anything more than peaceful oblivion and had no concept of it being anything other than an artefact of my imagination. The only explanation I needed was that it was like a waking dream and was happy to leave it at that – until the next meditation experience Dream, Vision or… What? Part Two really shook up my simplistic viewpoint.